Something stays stuck
when I prise this photo from the wall.
What if I slid my fingers into the air
that sleeps under the print?
Will I need a knife to scratch off the remains of her face?
And the remnants of her shirt?
And the shards of glass she nearly drank from?
And what if I want to drink the dregs from that glass?
Or if I'm lured by the scraps of her shirt
to smell faint traces of perfume on the wall?
And what if she were to smile
when my fingers draw close to her lips -
were they kissing the wall
just as I was thinking of taking down her photo?
Why can't I learn from an artist
and quietly place her photo in a frame?
Did I need all these years
of wounding my fingers every day,
healing with my blood what I can't remove -
the remains of a photo
and a wall.
The tone of Abboud al Jabiri's poetry is quite different from the other work we've translated from Arabic, as you'll see if you look at poets such as the stunning Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi from Sudan. In this poem, as in 'Fading', he fixes on a deceptively simple image and, when elaborating on it, manages to convey complex and delicates feelings about loss and acceptance.